Family members of a decedent – the deceased – often question if every surviving member will receive the same amount of compensation in a wrongful death claim. Unfortunately, the answer is no.
While most wrongful death cases involve a single victim who leaves behind several surviving family members, Texas law sees each individual as a separate claimant. The court will consolidate all of these various claims into one lawsuit for the purpose of streamlining the process, but when it comes to the jury to award compensation, every surviving family member will receive a different amount based on their relationship with the decedent and the merit of their loss and suffering.
What happens if a wrongful death suit does not go to court?
Not all cases end up in trial, so when there is no jury to decide how wrongful death compensation is distributed, your attorney will help to divide the monies by using past legal precedent. Your attorney will consider several variable to help determine how much every individual will receive including:
- Whether there are minors involved
- Whether all beneficiaries are adults
- Whether all parties can agree on a fair distribution
- Whether parties are incapable of dividing proceeds
- Whether the parties are willing to allow their attorneys to work with the other claimants’ attorneys
These factors need to be heavily considered when discussing options with attorneys and prior to filing a claim.
What happens if a jury awards the compensation?
Texas law does not have a single formula that rules how much every family member will receive. As previously mentioned, each individual claimant must validate their claim, and the jury will award an amount based on the ability to do so.
Since there have been thousands of wrongful death cases that have set precedents, there is data available to help draw probable conclusions about how juries generally award different family members:
- Juries will typically allocate more compensation to a decedent’s spouse than anyone else. When a spouse is financially dependent on the decedent, it can be easily proven how much income will be lost over the course of a lifetime. Emotional distress and mental anguish are also tacked on to these monies.
- Juries usually award a substantial amount to minor children who lost a parent. While a child may not receive the same amount as a surviving spouse, the amount is still relatively close. Emotional distress and financial dependency are taken into consideration to determine the amount.
- Parents who lose a minor child are generally awarded a considerable amount. The loss of a child is one of the most painful events that can happen to a parent and juries recognize this.
- Compensation for middle-aged or elderly who lose an adult child is generally limited. Awards are considerably lower in these scenarios because of the age of the decedent.
- Adult children who lose a parent are usually awarded limited compensation. Age once again affects this sort of situation, as juries will likely take into consideration the maturity of the adult and their ability to handle the situation more readily than a child. There also tends to be a lack of financial dependency, and while such an event can be traumatizing, juries tend to perceive adults in a different manner.
What is important to note is that, generally speaking, the more emotionally vulnerable and financially dependent a surviving family is, the larger the compensation will usually be. While the variation in amounts between children and adults may seem large, the reality is that compensation is relative and older family members can still receive a meaningful sum.
There are of course exceptions to these traditional guidelines and every situation is dependent on the circumstances of the relationships between decedents and their surviving family members. Ultimately, the value of a claimant’s case is established by the merit of the claim itself.
What happens when the responsible party has limited funds?
In situations where the defendant is an individual, and not a business or corporation, often times the responsible party is unable to pay the compensation decided by the jury. When this happens, the jury’s verdict should be considered more so of how proceeds should be divided rather than an indicator of how much money each family member will actually receive.
For example, if the decedent’s spouse and minor child would have received larger amounts than the other claimants, then any monies actually received should be distributed appropriately towards them, with the remaining family members receiving their just portion in correlation to what they might have received otherwise.
The attorneys at Garcia Law Group are here to fight for your rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your personal loss.
In order to seek the justice your loved one and family deserve, the first step you’ll want to take in a wrongful death claim is to contact The Garcia Law Group to receive a free initial case evaluation and consultation.
By contacting our experienced lawyers, you’ll be able to better understand the circumstances of your situation and receive valuable professional information about your case.
If you’re searching for a firm that’s not intimidated by powerful opponents or challenging cases, look no further than The Garcia Law Group. Our reputation means your case will be served with an ability unmatched.
Consult our effective and professional personal injury and wrongful death trial lawyers at 956-661-8000.